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International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day

It’s been four weeks since we found out about the death of my friend Scott Bradford.

And as I struggled with my grief over these past few weeks, I’ve also had the amazing opportunity to share Scott’s story with over 100 Texas librarians.

A week before we learned about Scott’s passing, I was invited to present a professional development session on the importance of children’s books about mental health and neurodiversity. Scott’s death led me to throw out my entire introduction and write a new one entirely from scratch.

I talked about being an awkward, weird kid with few friends. I talked about how Scott was one of the first people I reached out to when I began pursuing an autism assessment – something that would help explain my lifetime of awkwardness. How Scott and my husband Kyle have been friends since high school, so we’ve known Scott for years. How much Scott cared about helping people.

How none of us knew Scott was suffering until it was too late.

I told the librarians in attendance how the quarantine has worsened the mental health of so many, and how young people with mental health conditions need us now more than ever. Young people need to feel a connection, a sense of belonging. Young people need to read stories written by authors who have experienced the darkness of depression and lived to tell the tale, so they can know that there is always hope, that they too can survive this.

I can’t say that hearing stories of other people’s recoveries would have saved Scott. Depression is too complex for me to ever make a simplified claim like that.

But if those 100+ librarians can go back to work and make a commitment to talking more about mental health in their schools and libraries, then maybe they can reach a kid who’s been suffering alone, in silence. Maybe they can help make a difference, and put that kid on a path to recovery and healing.

Maybe they can help save a life.

Today, Kyle and I will observe the annual International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day. We’ll remember Scott. We’ll grieve. And we’ll keep going.

And in the coming weeks, I’ll prepare for future presentations, at TCEA in February and TLA in April, where I’ll share Scott’s story with even more librarians and other educators. I’ll try to use his memory, and the pain of his passing, to inspire others to help make the world a better place.

I hope I do his story justice. I hope talking about him helps me process my own feelings of grief and loss. I hope my work honors him and helps keep his memory alive.

Reading the wonderful comments that I’ve received from people who’ve attended my presentation sessions fills my heart with joy.

I hope he’d be proud. ❤️

Scott Bradford, 1983 – 2020

Published by Adriana Lebrón White

Autistic school librarian and former special education teacher. MA Ed in Special Education and MLIS with a focus on Youth Services and Storytelling.

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